Time to berley the reefs
  |  First Published: September 2004

THIS is a great month along our inshore reefs, wrecks and broken structure.

Targeting these places can reward with some great fishing and also allows us to get out of those tormenting westerlies.

Our Winter fishery was close to non-existent this season and but now is the time to hit the reefs for snapper, bream, leatherjackets, tailor, kingfish and squid. The sand dwellers, such as whiting, flathead and flounder, aren’t around so efforts around the reefs should be rewarding.

No matter how small or large, reefs will hold fish at one time or another. The reefs from Merewether down to Redhead are producing quality squire, tailor and bream.

The key to success is the berley trail, – get a good supply of berley in the water and attract the fish to you.

A lot of fishos from Stockton and Newcastle usually make their first stop at the end of one of the Hunter River breakwalls, the Adolph wreck on the Stockton side or the sailing boat wreck in front of Stockton Surf Club. There they catch baitfish for a fresh berley mix and live bait.

A sabiki bait jig or a small hook with a piece of bait just sitting on the tip is all you need. A handful of bread mixed with a little sand is the right berley and, at times, you can target the yellowtail and miss all the mado, butterfish and sweep.

A dozen yellowtail chopped up with some chicken pellets, stale bread, a little tuna oil and some sand to allow it to sink a little, and you’re away.

There are a number of good commercial berley mixes and berley dispensers around. Ultra Bite has mixes for larger saltwater applications these days with products in concentrated form and ready to go packs.

One of the best ways to get berley down deep is with a berley bomb, available from most tackle stores. A bomb allows you to berley all over the bottom right under the boat over a reef. In shallow water a berley cage or a small bit of oyster mesh curled around itself and loaded up with doughy berley on a heavy line under the boat does the trick.

Arnold from Freddy’s Fishing World says some huge luderick have been caught from the rocks in about a metre of water between Newcastle Beach and the Bogey Hole. A few drummer and nice bream have been caught from the end of the Stockton Breakwall and around the Soldiers Pool.

The Soldiers Pool under Fort Scratchley produces some great fishing at times. Low tide is best with floating baits such as prawns and small strips of mullet. The low tide allows you to walk the wall around the pool and drop into fairly deep water out the front where the bream lurk.


Last September it wasn’t as cold and the fishing was very good due to the numbers of garfish around. If you see these tasty morsels on the surface in good numbers, be assured that tailor and kingfish won’t be far away.

A great way to get into the garfish is to use a bobby cork in a different way. Rig the bobby cork or berley bobby cage at the end of your line with two or three hooks between it and the swivel. This allows one garfish to take a bait and drag the small pieces of bait around just under the surface, where it entices others to grab them. Very small baits of mullet strips with the skin attract them or you can use a bait jig.

There have been plenty of arrow and calamari squid lurking around the Adolph wreck. It’s only shallow here so the smallest jigs work best.

No 1

This kingfish took a fresh squid head strung about two metres feet under a torpedo float. This is a great time to target kings, especially if garfish and arrow squid are around in numbers.

No 2

Luderick are the mainstay of Winter fishing around Newcastle, with some large specimens taken lately.

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